Author Spotlight: Eva Gordon

This week I’m featuring Eva Gordon, a lady who has written a lot of books.  She writes steampunk, fantasy, romance, historical … all with a strong romantic element.  If you visit her Goodreads page or her blog, you’ll definitely find something to get stuck into.

As well as her writing, Eva teaches online courses on animal lore, ancient falconry and – I’m so excited by this next one – wolf lore 🙂  When she’s not in her den writing, she enjoys world travel, steampunk conventions, hiking, raptor rehabilitation and wolf sanctuaries.   She loves dark chocolate, red wine and dark deep forests.  Oh Eva, will you be my BFF?

Since she does have so many books under her belt, I’m just going to give you the low-down on Book One of the Realms Trilogy: The Stone of the Tenth Realm.  If you like your fantasy combined with history, then this might be one for you.

Book Cover ImageHere’s the blurb:

Sophie Katz, a Jewish chemistry student, harrowingly escapes a Nazi concentration camp. By way of Prague and with the help of a golem and a magic stone, she is transported into the Tenth Realm, a magical dimension that parallels the world she left behind.

Logan MacLeod, a Scottish warrior, hunted for a crime he did not mean to commit, flees to the Bestiary, a forest so dangerous no man dares enter. Drawn by the haunting sound of his bagpipes, Sophie and Logan meet.

Even as love ensues, the dark evil of the Third Reich threatens the Tenth Realm, led by Gustaf Hissler, Adolph Hitler’s doppelganger.

Together they must join the forces against Hissler in the Tenth Realm and help stop Hitler from world domination in Sophie’s realm. Will they be able to stop the Third Reich before its evil conquers all of the realms?

Buy Links: 

amazon    small amazon uk  bn  iBookstore

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Author Spotlight: Kyra Halland

Author Photo: Kyra HallandOnce again, I’m featuring an author from the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group.

On Kyra Halland’s blog Welcome to My Worlds, she says that she writes fantasy with: ‘Complicated, honorable heroes; heroines who are strong, smart, and all woman; magic, romance, and adventure; and excursions into the dark corners of life and human nature mixed with a dash of offbeat humor.’

Cover Image: City of MagesKyra’s latest book, City of Mages (Daughter of the Wildings Book 5) should be coming out this month.  Here’s the synopsis:

A nightmare come true – Silas is captured by mage hunters. Determined to rescue the man she loves, Lainie follows him and his captors into the mage-ruled land of Granadaia, where she discovers a betrayal she never imagined and a deep-rooted conspiracy that threatens the safety and freedom of the settlers in the Wildings. Alone in a strange land, with no one she can trust, Lainie must find a way to free Silas and put an end to the danger facing their beloved Wildings.

You can find out more about Kyra and her books by visiting her Goodreads page or her blog.

Author Spotlight: Annie B Matthews

Talent Book CoverFor the past while I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, so I failed to notice that last week’s featured author in the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group was the lovely Annie B Matthews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Annie’s first YA book, Talent, and if you happen to like YA fiction with a paranormal and romantic spin, then Talent might be just the book for you.

Annie has been writing since she was twelve, and I’m so glad that she’s finally decided to share her stories with the world. I loved reading about Libby’s journey to discover and gain control of her supernatural abilities.  And, though the book is nicely wrapped up, I happen to know that a second book is on the way.

If you’d like to know more about Annie, you can find her on her blog, on her Goodreads page, or on Twitter.

You can buy Talent at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.  And if you’re a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited like I am, then you can read it for free 🙂

Wolf Land: Tea Time

Image - Tea Cup

As I write this I’m drinking my second cup of tea of the day.  I’ll probably have at least three more cups between now and bedtime.  For me, drinking tea is a comforting ritual.  Each morning I wrap my chilly fingers around a warm cup, take a sip and say, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.

But there was a time when no one in Ireland or England had heard of tea, and in Wolf Land Book Two, some of my characters experience it for the first time.

Lady Tolbert is a huge fan of tea. She brings it to Wolf Wood from Portugal, where she drank it with Catherine of Braganza. But in Wolf Wood, tea is not met with sighs of, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.’  Maggie, the lady’s maid, refers to tea as, ‘That stuff,’ and says, ‘I am astounded as to how she keeps that foreign drink down.’

But whilst Lady Tolbert and Maggie are fictional characters, Catherine of Braganza lived and breathed in the real world instead of the one in my mind. Catherine was a Portuguese princess (and later Queen consort of England, Ireland and Scotland). She was born into the House of Braganza in 1638 – a house which became Portugal’s royal house in 1640.

Tea was popular among the rich of Portugal. It was an exotic drink imported from the East, and my mind plays vivid images of Lady Tolbert (a woman who knew how to influence the people of influence!) visiting Portugal in the 1650s and sipping the drink with the young Catherine.

Catherine did not arrive in England until 1662. She disembarked at Portsmouth in May of that year, and it is said that the first thing she asked for was a cup of tea. And – as well as the many expensive items that would be sold off to pay the debts of her husband, King Charles II – she made sure that a chest of tea was shipped to England for her arrival.

We know that tea was available before Catherine ever docked at Portsmouth. It was for sale in a London coffeehouse in 1657. Thomas Garraway, the owner of the coffeehouse, produced a pamphlet to advertise his latest offering. In 1658 an advertisement appeared in the Mercurius Politicus, calling tea: ‘That Excellent, and by all Physicians approved, China Drink.’

In Thomas Rugge’s Diurnall (a journal preserved in the British museum) he describes tea as being ‘sold in almost every street in 1659.’

The introduction of tea is also recorded in another famous journal, the diary of Samuel Pepys. In Samuel’s entry dated 25th September 1660, he records some time he spent discussing foreign affairs with friends. He tells us that, after this meeting, he ‘did send for a cupp of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before.’

But although all of these sources tell us that tea was available, it was not yet the drink of the masses. It was sold in mostly male frequented places, and was promoted as a medicinal drink (against the advice of the Royal College of Physicians who wondered whether the drink would ‘agree with the Constitutions of (our) English bodies’).

Upon Catherine’s arrival in 1662 she made it clear that tea was her drink of choice. It was what she and her fellow wealthy women drank at court – not for medicinal reasons, but simply for enjoyment – and under Catherine’s influence the drink gained the popularity it still has today.

So thank you, Catherine. Because of you, I have this lovely cup of warm liquid in my hands. And I’m about to dunk a biscuit.

Book Cover for Wolf Land Book Two: Storyfalls

Book Release: Wolf Land Book Two

It’s finally here folks!  Wolf Land Book Two: Storyfalls is now available to buy on Amazon.

Now that I’ve hit the ‘Publish’ button, I should probably get some overdue rest but … I’m already writing Book Three.  Writing this series is a joy, and not for one moment does it feel like work.  I get to create a fantastic world and add some Irish history into the mix.  I get to spend time with my favourite characters and also delve deeper into my passion for wolves.

Storyfalls follows on from where Bluebells left off.  It’s set in Ireland in 1659 and there’s a very short blurb for this one:

In the castle’s keep there is a room …

And in that room there is a box …

And in that box there is … ?

Sorcha Moore feels as though she has finally found her real home amongst the werewolves of Wolf Wood, but enemies may be closer than she thinks. With poisonings and attacks occurring within the wolves’ community, who can Sorcha really trust?

The werewolves must discover the culprit. And if they are ever to defeat the Tolberts, then they must do it fast.

Run Rebel Run

‘We have three beasts to destroy, that lay burdens upon us. The first is the wolf, on whom we lay five pounds a head if a dog, and ten pounds if a bitch. The second beast is a priest, on whose head we lay ten pounds; if he be eminent, more. The third beast is a Tory, on whose head if he be a public Tory we lay twenty pounds; and forty shillings on a private Tory. Your army cannot catch them; the Irish bring them in; brothers and cousins cut one another’s throats.’ – Major Morgan (MP for Wicklow), speaking at Westminster in 1657.

Nowadays we think of the word tory as being a colloquial name for the British Conservative Party or its supporters. Whilst there is an interesting history behind why the name came to be used in English/British/UK politics, today I’m going to focus on the original meaning of the word.

The word tory comes from the Irish word tóraidhe – meaning an outlaw or a pursued man (the Irish word tóir means pursue, and some translate tóraidhe as pursuer rather than pursued man). Basically the tories were Irish rebels, and those rebels were on the run. They were disbanded Confederate soldiers, raiding English-held areas and operating as guerrillas against invaders. They operated in rugged areas, such as the Wicklow mountains, attacking Parliamentarian soldiers and stealing their supplies. Oh, and they attacked tax collectors, too. Obviously, the Parliamentarian soldiers were not too happy about such things. The New Model Army meant to reconquer Ireland, and such rebel activity was not to be tolerated.

If an area was a suspected tory stronghold, then the soldiers must do anything to bring things back under control. And when I say anything, I mean anything. Crops would be burned. Cattle would be destroyed. Burn them out … starve them out … any tactic was acceptable. Some areas were free-fire zones – everyone had to get out, and if they did not, they would be considered tories or tory sympathisers, and be slain.

The fact that innocent people died, or had their crops and houses razed forcing them to become dispossessed … well, all’s fair in war. The tactics led the country into famine – a terrible famine which was worsened by a plague outbreak. The population was decimated (most deaths being those of civilians). The country was in ruins. The country was on its knees. The country was – as intended – ripe for re-conquest.

Most tories met unpleasant fates. Some were sold into slavery. Some were given deals which allowed them to leave the country to serve as soldiers in France (the English Royalist court was in exile in France) or Spain. But such deals were not always what they seemed. In 1653, the last organised tories surrendered in Cavan, thinking that they were to be sent to France. In fact, they were either executed or sent to penal colonies.

Of course some rebels remained and, despite the formal surrender, they would continue their activities on a smaller scale for the remainder of the 1650s.

The Irish Confederate (Eleven Years’) War:

So why were the tories seen as Royalist supporters? Why support one form of English rule over another? Well, the fact is that they probably did not. Affiliations are rarely iron-clad, but held only as long as is convenient.

The Eleven Years’ War (1641-1653) did not start out with Royalist support as its aim. In fact, the original Confederation was a Catholic movement, with the intention of fighting English soldiers sent by the government of Charles I. But even then there were grey areas as to allegiance and objective – otherwise why would the Confederates have felt the need to insist that their fight was against the King’s advisers rather than the King himself?

The war began in 1641 with the Ulster Rebellion – in which thousands of English and Scottish settlers were killed. Until 1649 the Confederates had somewhat of a de facto rule over Ireland. They professed to side with the Cavaliers, they claimed loyalty to Charles I, and they had the support of the Catholic clergy.

It was a complicated war, with constantly shifting loyalties and, at one stage, a brief civil war within the Confederate factions themselves.  It was the arrival of the New Model Army which put an end to it all (a brutal and bloody end), but most people reading about the events arrive at the same opinion: had the Confederates been united instead of constantly shifting sides and engaging in in-fighting, then the Irish Confederate Army might well have won Ireland back for good. In the words of the 17th century poem Tuireamh na hÉireann, the Eleven Years’ war was ‘an cogadh do chríochnaigh Éire’ – the war that finished Ireland.

This is a messy subject – hard to simplify, and even harder to confine to a short blog-post.  There was no ‘right side.’  With people being killed on the basis of their religion, every side carried out what would be called ethnic cleansing today. There is a wealth of material dealing with this period (much of it available online) and I spent a huge amount of time poring over it all. At the end of that research this was the conclusion I came to: in this Irish conflict, the only thing that anyone really supported was their own best interests. Human nature?

But war is ever-present. The world today is filled with those displaced by conflict, desperate to find a safe place, a place to call home. So let’s not end on a cynical note. Let’s end on a hopeful one. In recent weeks, huge swathes of people have been marching to ask that Syrian refugees be welcomed into their countries. There are people – ordinary people – inviting these refugees to share their homes. Perhaps some of us are changing. Perhaps some of us are looking past our own immediate concerns. Perhaps four hundred years from now historians will look back and say: in the 21st century, people cared.

 

Author Spotlight: Lynn Thompson

Once again, the spotlight is going to be on this week’s featured author from the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group.  The group made me their featured author a wee while back, and you gotta pay it forward!  This week, Lynn Thompson is the lucky lady.

Lynn’s Goodreads bio (which, by the way, I love):

Lynn Thompson’s place is in the Land of Enchantment, where the sky is turquoise blue, the fires rage, and there is rain and/or snow without a cloud in the sky.

Lynn wades through the craziness of life in order to write fiction, her true passion. In her spare time-which isn’t much-she loves to hike, camp, read, and sit for hours in hot springs.

Lynn doesn’t have a specific genre that she writes her books in. Characters have a tendency to lead her next story. She follows.

She has two novels out: Blake-A Montana Dayton Novel and Sterling-A Montana Dayton Novel. She also has two short stories books out: Dark Fates and News Worthy.

You can find out more about Lynn on her blog, twitter, or her Goodreads page, but I would like to give you a sneak peek of her upcoming release, due out on Halloween.

Dark Fates – Madness: Short Stories by Lynn Thompson.  Enter a world of love, loss, teenage angst and betrayal.  Click Here if you would like to preorder the book

Live October 31, 2015

Wolf Land: Little Burial Grounds

It’s the first day of September. It’s chilly. It’s raining (it’s raining here anyway). All of that is enough to put anyone in a sombre mood, so I don’t suppose today’s blog about cillíní is going to perk us up much! For those who don’t know, a cillín is a ‘little burial ground’. The word can also translate as ‘little cell’ or ‘little churchyard.’ Cillíní is the plural.

In the Wolf Land books, there is a cillín behind the village church. It’s where Sorcha’s mother is buried because she was considered a witch. Unbaptised babies were buried in such places because, not having been cleared of original sin, they would not be deemed fit to enter Heaven. Their souls were not said to go to Hell, but to exist forever in Limbo instead. Other burials might include shipwrecked sailors, the mentally ill, women who died in childbirth, religious heretics, and suicides.

To quote Wolf Land Book One: ‘I thought of all the bodies I knew were buried there: babies who died too soon, without married parents, without having been baptised; women, joining those babies in the cillín with the help of a potion, or a blade, or a rope.  Sinners, in the eyes of the church.  Loved ones, in the eyes of the people who laid flowers on their graves.’

Cillíní are no longer in use. Babies who die too soon, people who take their own lives and all the others who may have been marginalized in life as well as in death, are now buried on consecrated ground. But the treatment of such individuals is a part of Irish history that will not, and should not, be forgotten.

Author Spotlight: Shari Sakurai

Every week the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group features one of its authors.  This week, the featured author is Shari Sakurai.

Shari Sakurai

Here’s a little info about Shari:

Shari Sakurai was born in Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom.  After completing secondary school she moved away from further education to work in administration.

Shari is very interested in other countries’ cultures and mythology; in particular Japan. Japanese themes and influences can often be found in her work.

Shari’s debut novel Demon’s Blood was released in ebook format on 25th January 2014. She has participated and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge for the past eight years.

You can visit Shari at Goodreads, on her Amazon Author page or on her blog to find out more.  For now, here’s a little peep at a couple of her books:720764

Demon’s Blood

Where to Buy:

Ebook version
Amazon: US | UK

Print edition
Farnhurst Publishing web store

Immortal blood is precious and Kokawa Taku’s makes him especially unique.

After vampire hunters force them to flee Tokyo, Taku and his lover,  Thane, try to make a new life for themselves in England. But three months later Thane is still tormented by nightmares of the fire that almost cost them their lives. This leads to carelessness and the discovery of one of his victims.

When faced with threats from all sides Taku tries his best to protect them although his actions are met with disapproval and anger from Thane. Unknown to his lover, Taku is also struggling to keep hidden the truth of what really happened three months ago.

However, it is only a matter of time before Taku’s past and bloodline catches up with him.

9815009

Perfect World
(Perfect World series, Book #1)

Where to Buy:

Ebook version
Smashwords.comAmazon: US | UKibooks UKibooks USABarnes & Noble

Print edition
Farnhurst Publishing web store

It is the year 2115 and the world is very different. With climate changes, natural disasters and war shaping the landscape, England has become a nation made up of several super cities and wasteland in between.

Eric Rawlins is a genetically engineered superhero created by the London Security Agency (L.S.A) to defend and protect the city against both national and international threats. With his superior abilities, celebrity status and beautiful girlfriend, Eric appears to have the perfect life. However, it is an illusion created by the L.S.A in order to control him.

Eric’s nemesis is the charismatic Adam Larimore. The only son of billionaire business tycoon Victor Larimore, Adam is gifted with a genius level IQ as well as the same longevity as Eric.

When the actions of the L.S.A throw the two of them together Eric finds himself questioning everything that he has ever known as well as discovering the true course of events that led to Adam turning to a life of crime. As they become closer Eric realises that the L.S.A may be the real threat to London. But can he trust Adam or is he part of Adam’s plan for revenge against those who have wronged him?

Wolf Land: more than just a book title

The eradication of the wolf in Ireland was not what you would call an overnight  success.  Supposedly, the last wolf in Ireland was killed in 1786, but the campaign to exterminate them had been going on for a long time.

There are early historical references to wolves attacking people, such as in the Annals of Tigernach (1137) where it states: The Blind one of … that is, Giolla Muire, was killed by wolves.

In the Annála Connacht  (1420) it is stated: Wolves killed many people this year.

The first legislation to exterminate wolves, however, did not come until 1584.  More legislation followed over the years, but during the Cromwellian re-conquest of Ireland, the campaign really stepped up.

During wars, there will be bodies, and where there are bodies there will be wolves.  Wolf numbers increased, giving rise to the nickname Wolf Land (or wolf-land, depending on the source).  But … Irish men could hardly be allowed to hunt, could they?  Hunters would need weapons, and weapons were something that the Irish were not supposed to have.  Hunters from elsewhere would have to be attracted to Wolf Land, and the only way to do that was to pay them a whole lot of money.image_jpeg2

In Wolf Land Book One, Sorcha lists out  some typical bounties at the time. She tells us: They will earn six pounds for every female they kill, five for the males, two pounds for the younger wolves and ten shillings for the cubs.

Even with such money on offer, getting rid of our Irish wolves was not an easy job.  In 1652, for example, it was forbidden to remove any wolf-hounds from the country because, with a wolf population like ours, hunters would need the help of such able dogs at their side.  So why was Ireland such a special case?  Why were our wolves so difficult to eradicate?  I have read that, in Ireland, we saw them as a part of the landscape; indeed, their Irish name, Mac Tire (son of the land) would suggest just that.  Whatever the reason, most Irish people I talk to still have a inexplicable passion for wolves.  It may be 2015, but Ireland is still a Wolf Land at heart.